Not all drama is confined to the stage.


Callie Marin is a middle school theater lover who would love to be in her school play but knows she can't sing. So she joins the theater production crew, helping with sets and design. Callie's circle of friends now includes Greg (her 7th-grade crush) and his brother Matt, twins Jesse and Justin, and long-time friend Liz. As you might expect, the drama goes well beyond putting on a play at Eucalyptus Middle School. Callie and her peers are struggling with common teen troubles, like developing a crush on a friend, shifting friendships, and figuring out who you really are. 

BTSYA / Teen Reader (12):
As I was reading, it was as though the author had stepped into a middle schooler’s mindset. The story is relatable because just like Callie, each of us has those awkward moments we want to forget. The book tackles the meaning of friendship and inclusion. Callie's friendship with Justin and Jesse show you can be friends with the opposite gender without it being a romantic relationship. She also stuck by her best friend Liz, letting us know that friendship can outlast whatever drama comes your way.  Another thing I love is that the boys are not portrayed as macho, strong men who only care about sports and hot girls. Jesse and Matt deal with the stereotype that boys are not supposed to like theater, and in the beginning, they believe it. As the story progresses they start to feel more comfortable with their masculinity. The author also incorporates sexual identity in the book. From the start, Justin says he is gay, and the author does not make a big deal out of it. Being gay is just one part of who he is as a person, and he is far from the “stereotypical gay best friend” that many books have. In fact, his sexuality barely makes an appearance. I like that it symbolizes that times are changing and being gay isn't a giant part of how you act or are treated. There is one character who has a coming-out arc, and Justin's carefree personality and being okay with his sexuality are visible contrast with this other character, who has trouble accepting themselves. Ultimately, it makes for a fiery conclusion. 

This is a quick read I definitely recommend! It would make for a great gift for both boys and girls in middle school.

Parent Perspective:
Although times change and events are different, the preteen/teen experience is fairly timeless. Drama balances that fine line between presenting middle school life that has both universal truths (shifting friendships, figuring out who we are) while still creating individuals in whom today's tweens can see themselves. Overall, I'd characterize this as a wholesome, realistic graphic novel. It's not a personal fave, but I would certainly recommend it. My fear, though, is that recommenders will limit the audience to girls and kids interested in the theater. And that makes me sad.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Even the most reluctant reader will breeze through this graphic novel story about a group of teens trying to figure out life and themselves. The story takes a matter-of-fact approach to gay characters, allowing them to shine as individuals without labels. Don't be surprised by how much you're going to like this book.

Content Awareness Factors:

One of the themes in the story is about a character who is struggling with their sexual identity. It is a thread that runs parallel to similar issues other characters face in trying to figure out who they are and how they want to be perceived. It is mentioned because some readers may be uncomfortable with the topic.

Type of Book:
This is a graphic novel set in middle school. The story focuses on a group of teens working on a school play.
Educational Themes:

The story goes deeper than preteens trying to figure out who their boyfriend/girlfriend is. Callie takes center stage, but she is not the only person on it. There are other characters whose behaviors, choices, and perceptions of others that can spark conversations. 

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
8 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
9 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 12
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow, at least. Our teen reviewer recommends buying for preteens because of the way it realistically depicts the issues and events of their daily lives in middle school.

Title Drama
Author Raina Telgemeier
Publisher Graphix, Imprint Scholastic Inc. © 2012
Illustrators Raina Telgemeier, Gurihiru .
ISBN 9780545326995
Material Paperback
Cost $10.99
Genres Friendship, Comics | Graphic Novels, Performing Arts
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